Scientists genetically modify Anopheles gambiae mosquito species to fight malaria

Scientists have genetically modified malaria-causing mosquito Anopheles gambiae species to fight the deadly disease of malaria.

The research was successfully carried by team of researchers led by London based Imperial College and was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Key facts

  • Scientists have genetically modified Anopheles gambiae mosquito species so that they carry a modified gene disrupting egg production in female mosquitoes.
  • For this they had used a technology called gene drive which uses the technique of recessive genes, so that many mosquitoes will inherit only one copy of the gene.
  • Usually two copies in female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are needed for fertility. But the one copy of the gene makes female infertile by disrupting egg production.
  • The genes were modified with the help of CRISPR/Cas9 endonuclease which is a type of DNA cutting tool that modify the very specific parts of the genetic code.
  • The trait of modified gene can be passed through a population of mosquitoes over time and can help to drastically reduce or eliminate the malaria-carrying mosquito species.
  • The findings represent an important scientific step in the ability to develop novel methods of vector control.

It should be noted that mosquito species Anopheles gambiae are the major carrier of dangerous malaria parasites in sub-Saharan Africa region where 90 per cent of annual malaria deaths occur. Every year, malaria infects more than 200 million people and causes more than 430,000 deaths across the globe.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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